As we get ready to officially kick off summer in New England (which happens the July 4th weekend) after a very long cold winter and an unusual spring, we are all ready for some summer sun and fun! Regardless of the season you are enjoying as you read this, however, it is never the wrong time to talk about safely managing our sun exposure.

While everyone agrees that getting a sunburn is not a good thing, both for your personal comfort as well as your longer term health and wellness, in our quest to avoid a sunburn we may unwittingly be doing more harm than good to our bodies. Recent studies have shown that many sunscreens contain an ingredient shown to actually cause – not prevent – skin cancer.

In addition, while many of us pay close attention to what we eat and try to avoid pesticides and other chemicals that may cause health issues over time, many sunscreens also contain other carcinogenic ingredients that are absorbed directly into the blood stream upon application, making their effect potentially greater than that of some of the residual chemicals on the food we consume.

While there is some research that ties melanoma to “blister and peel” sun burns before age 20, there is additional research that suggests the sun may not be the cause. Until we know more, the truth is: we need some sun exposure to produce vitamin D, a proven cancer-preventor. So let’s look at how we can safely get moderate sunshine exposure while avoiding sunburns and cancer-causing chemicals.

Why We Need Sun Exposure

If you read my previous article on vitamin D, you know how important I believe this group of hormones to be to our overall health. When I originally wrote about vitamin D, I said,

“While we have always known it helps with bone health as it facilitates calcium absorption, new research is proving that higher levels of the vitamin have an impact on immune health and protect against cancer, heart health, autoimmune diseases, depression, periodontal disease, diabetes and a host of other conditions. 

While adequate levels are shown to be protectors against many conditions, low levels, or deficiencies, are now linked to concerns with these same systems and conditions. Studies now show that vitamin D deficiency is rampant and far more pervasive than previously believed.

Many experts say increasing your vitamin D levels may be the single most important thing you can do to improve your health.”

Those words are as true now as ever. More and more experts are lining up to tout the benefits of vitamin D to our overall health as well as for cancer prevention. While it is possible to get vitamin D from food, it is almost impossible to get all that we need on a daily basis solely from food sources. Without question, the best source of vitamin D is 20 minutes of direct sunlight (without sunscreen) daily.

In addition to vitamin D, direct sun exposure generates photoproducts that cannot be generated from food sources. When it comes to cancer prevention and overall health, vitamin D is essential and the sun is the best possible source.

But there are times when we want or need to be outside for longer periods of time than our skin can handle without burning and no one wants a sunburn. (Early childhood sunburns have been linked to skin cancer development later on.) Hence, the multi-billion dollar, largely unregulated, sunscreen business. But let’s look at why sunscreens are not the answer.

Sunscreen and Cancer

Headlines were made not long ago when a study revealed that products containing vitamin A or its derivates are shown to increase the rate at which malignant cells develop and spread skin cancer. Sadly, almost half of the most popular sunscreens available today contain these ingredients, and it was reported that the FDA has known of the potential danger for a much as a decade now.

Vitamin A is a popular sunscreen ingredient because it’s an anti-oxidant that can slow aging. However, anyone who has been given a prescription based form of vitamin A for acne or youthfulness knows that it comes with an advisory to avoid sun exposure. Vitamin A has photocarcinogenic properties, which means that it can become cancerous through exposure to light.

The FDA studied the impact of vitamin A and found that tumors and lesions developed 21% sooner in vitamin A-laced cream than in creams not formulated with vitamin A. Since 41% of sunscreens contain vitamin A or its derivatives (retinyl palmitate or retinol) this is a significant concern for the sunscreen industry.

But beyond vitamin A, there are a number of other ingredients that cause concern, especially since sunscreen is applied to skin. Then in the heat, skin pores open and rapidly absorb the chemicals directly into the bloodstream. Unfortunately, the list of these common skin care carcinogens is too lengthy for this article so I will have to share that with you in another issue. For now I will just say that should you decide to use sunscreen, please choose an organic brand that minimizes exposure to carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting chemicals such as parabens, nitrosamines, propalene glycol, and sulfates.

Given what’s inside these products, we have to ask the question: is exposure to all these chemicals really worth it? Taking the risk of exposure to all these cancer-causing chemicals might be worthwhile if doing so truly prevented potentially fatal skin cancer. Let’s put it all in perspective. Assume for a moment that using sunscreen prevents melanoma, which we will see in a moment is not the case. (If sunscreen is the answer, then why has melanoma doubled over the past 20 years despite the introduction of sunscreen in the late 1960s? And why are melanoma rates higher among sunscreen users than non-users?)

Even if sunscreen did prevent melanoma, that benefit has to be weighed against the risks derived from lack of sun exposure.

Vitamin D and its photoproducts produced through sun exposure are proven to help prevent breast, colon and prostate cancer. (Using sunscreen inhibits vitamin D production and prevents those benefits.) About 40,000 people died from breast cancer, 32,000 from prostate cancer, and 51,000 from colon cancer. All together that’s about 123,000 deaths a year from cancers that are directly connected to a lack of sun exposure. Last year, 8,700 people died from melanoma. Seeing those statistics one must wonder if our fear is unjustified and doing more harm than good.

But now on to the bigger question: does sunscreen prevent melanoma? For those with higher risks due to having fair skin or a family history of skin cancer, it may be worth exposure to all the concerns we’ve looked at thus far if using sunscreen could truly prevent melanoma.

To date, no research has proven that sunscreen can prevent melanoma. While sunscreen may help prevent some easily treatable generally non-fatal skin cancers, no ties have been made to melanoma prevention. In fact, according to the Food and Drug Administration, “The FDA is not aware of any data demonstrating that sunscreen use alone helps prevent skin cancer” of any kind. The International Agency for Research on Cancer agrees.

Experts generally take the stand of we don’t know, but meanwhile you should keep using it. (Friends of mine in the medical field say that they feel compelled to encourage sunscreen use despite lack of evidence supporting it for fear of lawsuits.) But should we keep using something that doesn’t protect us from cancer when we know it increases health concerns and risk of other forms of cancer through its use?

The Diet Connection: Melanoma and Omega 3

If sunscreen doesn’t prevent melanoma perhaps that is because it is not the sun that causes melanoma after all.

For some time it was thought that the sun was the source of the problem and that it was excess sun exposure that would lead to melanoma. That link is now being questioned. One recent study showed that people working exclusively inside had higher rates of melanoma than those whose jobs required them to be both inside and outside.

Another study indicated that melanoma occurs more often on the soles of the feet than on the hands, even though it’s clear that hands would have significantly more exposure to the sun than the bottom of the feet. And melanoma is more common in northern latitudes than in southern regions where there is greater sun exposure.

There are some researchers currently trying to make a connection to chlorine exposure and melanoma. They believe that chlorine contact with our skin due to drinking and bathing/showering in chlorine-treated water as well as swimming in chlorinated pools may be the cause. Studies in Belgium have connected fatal melanoma to the consumption of chlorinated water. It’s not a leap to me to connect cancer to contact with a chemical substance, and while research continues on this theory, so we don’t know for sure yet, it is an interesting one.

It’s not a leap to me to connect cancer to contact with a chemical substance, and while research continues on this theory, so we don’t know for sure yet, it is an interesting possibility. (It would certainly explain help explain how melanoma gets on the bottom of feet, since standing in a shower or pool repeatedly over time would enable chemical absorption directly into the blood stream. Twice as much chemical substances are absorbed through the skin than through the digestive tract.)

Though perhaps the sun may have a supporting role (in exacerbating the chlorine or other chemical impacts, for example), one thing is clear, the sun is not the sole culprit. Until we not only know, but also have an effective way to avoid the true cause, our best defense is prevention. The key to preventing melanoma, it turns out, is directly related to diet.

In 2001, the National Academy of Sciences published a study indicating that omega 3:6 ratios were the key to preventing skin cancer. As I shared in a prior article on omega 3, it is not that omega 6 is bad; we need both omega 3 and omega 6 to be healthy. The problem is that historically we have had a 1:1 balance of omega 6:3. With the advent of vegetable oils such as corn oil, canola, sunflower, sesame, and safflower oils, we’ve gone from very little vegetable fat to consuming more than 70 pounds a year.

These oils are pervasive in processed food today, and our omega 6:3 balance has shifted to more like 20 or 50 to 1; it is no longer evenly balanced. It is this imbalance that scientists believe creates the problem. A prestigious cancer journal reported that excess omega 6 can lead to the proliferation of cancerous cells, including melanoma, while long chain omega 3 fatty acids act as inhibitors to that growth.

An Australian study showed that simply by eating fish rich in omega 3, without changing anything else in the diet to reduce omega 6, resulted in a 40% reduction in melanoma.

In addition, studies have shown that people who eat more omega 3s are able to increase their burn threshold. This allows them to enjoy healthy sun exposure for longer periods of time without risk of burning or developing skin cancer. Another great reason to balance omega 3s!

Whenever my kids and I are heading outside for the day, we increase our omega 3 consumption (fish day!) and also supplement after the sun exposure. If we know in advance we are heading for a day at the beach on Saturday, for example, I start increasing our omega 3s a few days before. Doing this has enabled us to bring our sunscreen use down to a minimum and still avoid burns. And yes, when we use it, we choose organic products!

Safe and Healthy Vitamin D Exposure

Most everyone agrees that while we need moderate sun exposure, the key is to avoid burning. Burning has been connected to skin cancer and logically, burning is the natural way of letting our body knows that we have had enough sun.

To avoid burns, get your sun exposure earlier or later in the day when the UV rays are less likely to cause burning (though you may need to be outside a bit longer). Build up your sun exposure slowly over time so that gradually you can spend more time in the sunshine before you are at risk for burning.

Seek shade midday and use hats and clothing to protect you. (I am not a fan of sunscreen-laced clothing as the chemicals that are used to provide the sun barrier are present on the clothes and can be absorbed by the skin when you sweat.)

Avoid sunscreen use whenever possible. But for those times when you must go outside for longer than would be safe for you to avoid a burn, seek a natural organic sunscreen without retinol palmitate or retinol and without parabens and other carcinogens. Badger makes a good one that you can find in a health food store or on

And perhaps most importantly of all, whether you choose to use sunscreen or not, examine your diet with a goal of omega 6 consumption and trying to balance the omega 3:6 ratio in your diet. Eat more fish and consider taking a high quality omega 3 supplement daily, or preferably with every meal. Try additional supplementation before a longer day in the sun.

At a minimum, it will make your body healthier overall and it may well prevent skin and other cancers. Omega 3 consumption can also improve your sun tolerance and reduce your burn risk, both short and longer-term. And with the ozone depletion in today’s environment, that’s something we can all benefit from.

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!


Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal at

 Photo Source: Microsoft Clip Art


The Washington Post recently reported that men should NOT receive a routine blood test for prostate cancer. A government task force concluded that “for every one man saved by PSA testing, another one will develop a dangerous blood clot, two will have heart attacks and 40 will become impotent or incontinent because of unnecessary treatment.”

Now before you think this is new news, similar information was reported by The New York Times back in 2009 and I first wrote about it when we originally launched New England Health Advisory in 2010. So this week, I am re-visiting the article  I wrote about prostate screening two years ago, as it is every bit as relevant and important today. Next time, I’ll share what you can do to achieve and maintain a healthy prostate, whether you opt for testing or not.

For the ladies, I am fairly sure there is someone in your life you love and care for who has a prostate, so this information is important for you as well. But to make it even more relevant, I added some information about breast cancer screening that you’ll want to consider as well.

Prostate Screening

In March 2009, the New York Times ran a story with the headline, “Prostate Test Found to Save Few Lives.” The article reported on two large studies, one in the US and one in Europe, indicating that the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test that screens for prostate cancer was shown to save few lives — and that it led to risky and unnecessary treatments for large numbers of men.

The Chief Medical Officer of the American Cancer Society, Dr. Otis Brawley, called the studies “some of the most important studies in the history of men’s health.”  Experts have been debating the value of the test for years and the cancer society has long been urging men to be fully informed before they decide to have a PSA test, but they never had the data to back it up. “Now,” as Dr. Brawley states, “ we actually have something to inform them with,” Dr. Brawley said. “We’ve got numbers.”

The New England Journal of Medicine published both study reports the same day. The European study covered 182,000 men in seven European countries and the US study — conducted by the National Cancer Institute — included nearly 77,000 men at 10 different medical centers across the U.S.

In both studies, participants were randomly selected to either be screened by the PSA test or not and then they were followed for a decade afterward. Prostate cancer deaths were tracked among each group in order to determine if the screening made any difference to prostate cancer mortalities.

In the American study, all the men were followed for at least seven years, while most of the men were tracked for ten years. After seven years, the group that had not been screened had a prostate cancer death rate 13% lower than the screened group.

The European study was more complex and included several studies with different designs. But taken together, they found that there was a 20% reduction in deaths in the screened group, but that the number of lives saved over the nine year follow up was very small: 7 lives for every 10,000 men screened. There was no benefit found in the first seven years after screening.

When the test was undertaken, some urologists said it was unethical not to screen men and demanded it be shut down. Many scientists expected to see some difference in mortality rates as soon as five years into the study. But that did not occur. Some experts were thrilled to see the data confirming what they’d suspected all along.

The PSA test that is conducted indicates whether there is a possibility that cancer might be present. This then leads to biopsies in order to determine if there is a tumor. But even if there is a tumor, not all tumors lead to death: many grow very slowly and are never a threat. Those that do grow quickly, often grow so fast that early detection might even be too late.

While no benefit to screening was found in the US study, a small benefit was found in the European study. But in the European study, 48 men were told they had prostate cancer and treated needlessly for every one man that was saved within the decade after the PSA test.

Dr. Peter B. Bach of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center put it this way, “One way to think of the data is to suppose he has a PSA test today. It leads to a biopsy that reveals he has prostate cancer, and he is treated for it. There is a one in 50 chance that, in 2019 or later, he will be spared death from a cancer that would otherwise have killed him. And there is a 49 in 50 chance that he will have been treated unnecessarily for a cancer that was never a threat to his life.”

Treatment for prostate cancer is not without impact: it can result in impotence and incontinence if the treatment option is surgery and chronic diarrhea or painful defecation when treated with radiation.

Dr Michael Barry of Massachusetts General Hospital wrote an accompanying editorial pointing out that if the European study is correct, mammography has comparable benefits to prostate screening. About 10 women receive diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer as a result of a mammography for every one death that is prevented.

The real screening benefit would come from a test that could determine which tumors are cancerous and which are not, but that test does not yet exist.

In the year since the release of the studies, the cancer society has tried to spread the word about these test results, and in March of this year it revised its screening guidelines to recommend that “beginning at age 50, men with no special risk of prostate cancer discuss the pros and cons of screening with their doctors and decide together whether it’s worth doing.”

“What we are trying to say to men is the harms (of prostate screening) are better proven than the benefits,” said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. The new guidelines are not really that different from those that have been issued previously in 1997 and 2001, but they now come with an increased focus on individual counseling.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology, representing the cancer specialists including those who treat prostate cancer patients, supports the Cancer Society Guidelines.

“All men considering testing for prostate cancer should be fully informed by their clinicians about their risk factors and other uncertainties before being screened,” a statement from ASCO President Dr. Douglas Blaney said.

The American Urological Association does not fully agree. They agree that informed decision making is important, but they think men should have a baseline PSA test at age 40 and then annually after 50. They say that everyone should get the screening and rather than discussing the risks and benefits of screening prior to screening, the discussion should wait until the 10-15% of men whose screening results indicate a risk of cancer and then should be advised of the risks and benefits of treatment.

Everyone agrees an informed discussion should take place: the question they disagree on is should it happen prior to having a screening or after you get the potentially “bad news” results and assess your treatment options.

One argument made is primary care physicians don’t have the time (or sometimes all the information) to sit down discuss and advise a patient in their brief physical, when they also need to guide them on issues like diet, exercise, blood pressure, diabetes, and heart health. This is a valid point, to which Dr. Brawley of the Cancer Society responded that the new guidelines state that men can “be referred to reliable and culturally appropriate sources” for their counseling on whether or not to have a PSA screening, so “the information doesn’t have to come from a doctor.”

Most American men are screened, resulting in a diagnosis of prostate cancer in an estimated 192,000 men last year. In Europe, most men are not screened. The decision regarding whether or not to screen is a personal one based on your own health history, diet, lifestyle and genetic predisposition and it should be discussed with your doctor. But you should be informed fully as to risks and benefits of such a screening and should be aware of the guidelines put forth by the American Cancer Society and the American Society of Clinical Oncology so that you can partner with your doctor to make an informed decision.

Breast Screening

And for the ladies, similar questions are raised regarding breast screening and mammograms. Mammograms use radiation to detect lumps in the breast and are touted as an early screening mechanism. However, many experts have stated that it can take as long as 7-8 years before a cancerous lump is large enough to be detected by a mammogram.

The job of a mammograms is not to detect cancer: its job is to find lumps. They are not completely reliable, however, as the National Cancer Institute reports that they miss up to 20% of cancers present at screening. They can also yield false positive results. A Swedish study revealed that 70% of the lumps detected by mammograms were not tumors at all. (Which means that that 70% of women endured unnecessary procedures for false positive results.) Now the flip side to that is that 30% were tumors and that mammograms may potentially have saved those women.

But in doing so, the mammogram may also have caused the cancer. The mammogram itself exposes delicate breast tissue to radiation and repeated radiation exposure is linked to cancer. The mammogram breast compression process can also rupture blood vessels, resulting in existing cancer spreading to other areas. In addition, some women also have a gene called oncogene AC, which is extremely sensitive to radiation. One statistic I saw stated that 10,000 women will die from breast cancer this year due to mammography activating this radiation sensitive gene.

According to the National Cancer Institute, “Screening mammography is also associated with potential harms, including false-negative results, false-positive results, the diagnosis and treatment of cancers and ductal carcinoma in situ lesions that would not have caused symptoms or threatened a woman’s life (i.e., overdiagnosis, overtreatment) and radiation exposure.”

So if the risks of mammography concern you, as they do me, what can you do? One alternative is thermography or thermal imaging, which can detect abnormalities years earlier. Pre-cancerous growths need nutrients to grow and the resulting chemical and blood vessel activity raises surface temperatures in the breast. Thermography can detect these changes without radiation or compression, often years before a mammogram would discover a lump.

If you are unsure about whether your potential cancer risk outweighs radiation risks, you might also consider gene testing. In addition the radiation gene already mentioned, there are two gene mutations linked to breast cancer: BRCA1 and BRCA2. According to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, “A woman’s odds of developing breast cancer in her lifetime (assuming she lives until the age of 85) are a bit over 13 percent if she does not have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, 60 percent to 80 percent if she has a BRCA1 mutation, and 30 percent to 85 percent if she has a BRCA2 mutation.”

In addition to knowing your family history and your own personal awareness of the presence of excess estrogen levels in your body, clearly, knowing your gene mutation risk would be helpful in guiding your choices. The Canadian Cancer Society has concluded there is no benefit to screening women under the age of 50 by mammogram. In the US, however, health care – especially cancer diagnosis and treatment — is a big business.  Screening recommendations carry enormous financial impacts and aren’t necessarily based on what’s best for YOU. It is up to you to partner proactively with your doctor to determine what your risk profile and tolerance is and determine your best options for breast health.

If you want to read the full Washington Post article just released regarding prostate cancer screening, you can find it at:

To your wellness and health : your true wealth!


Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal at

Photo Source: Microsoft Clip Art


With all the press lately around pink slime and now the new study about the health impacts of red meat, let’s talk about making better meat choices.

Unless you’re a vegetarian whose health is thriving, you most likely need to pay more attention to your animal protein selections. While it is possible to get everything you need to be healthy purely from plants, it’s difficult to do so. Almost every civilization has included some animal protein in its diet, even if it was only insects and bugs. While most of us do need to consume some animal protein to maintain optimal health, it’s likely that you are eating too much meat in general as well as too much unhealthy meat.

If you haven’t read the books The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan and Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, or seen the movie Food, Inc., I strongly encourage you to check them out. I could easily write a book on factory farming and the challenges it poses to our food supply. But I’ll save most of that for another day. However, I do want to tell you a little bit about hormones and antibiotics, as well as pesticides, in meat and why eating them can be bad for your health.

Hold the Hormones

For decades, the meat and dairy industries have been using hormones to help young livestock gain weight faster. More weight means more meat means more profit. A pellet is typically implanted in the animal’s ear that releases hormones, commonly synthetic estrogens and testosterone, throughout its life.

The hormones remain in the animal’s fatty tissue and are present in the meat we eat, albeit in smaller doses than the human body typically produces. But even small amounts of hormones have been shown to have big effects on some body processes. It’s long been known that excess exposure to estrogen increases breast cancer risk and now we know it increases prostate cancer risk too. Hormone-treated meat has been suspected of contributing to early puberty and male breast development.

The European Union has banned all hormones in meat. But there aren’t any studies underway in the U.S. to evaluate hormone safety in meat and milk, so this practice will likely continue. Perhaps if we were not so heavily exposed to estrogenic compounds in our daily environment, this might not be so problematic. But estrogenic compounds are hard to avoid and eating hormone-laden meat just adds to the burden on your body.

Rising Antibiotic Resistance

We know the benefits of taking antibiotics when we have a bacterial illness, but most livestock in the U.S. are fed antibiotics even when they aren’t sick! Antibiotics are primarily used to make animals gain weight. But now researchers are becoming concerned with this practice, as they fear it is giving rise to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which could pose a serious health risk.

In fact, a number of studies have shown growing resistance to antibiotics, including one in the New England Journal of Medicine that revealed that 84% of the salmonella bacteria found in supermarket ground beef was resistant to some antibiotics. Another study showed that pork that came from animals that had been fed the antibiotic ciprofloxacin led to people catching resistant strains of salmonella. The FDA estimates that 11,000 people caught intestinal illnesses in 1999 from eating antibiotic-resistant bacteria in chicken.

Pesticides: Not Just a Concern with Produce

We hear a lot about pesticides with respect to produce, and they are a concern. But pesticides in our meat supply may pose an even greater danger. You can ingest far more pesticides on a meat-heavy diet than you would from consuming fruits and vegetables. Today’s livestock are not fed a traditional diet, but rather a feed that is loaded with pesticides. (The feed also often contains meat from diseased animals that die before slaughter.)

Pesticides accumulate in the flesh of animals and have been shown to cause cancer, nerve damage, birth defects, and to inhibit the proper absorption of food nutrients. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 90% of fungicides, 60% of herbicides and 30% of insecticides are known carcinogens.

The EPA does set limits on how much pesticide can be used (according to what they deem as safe) and how much is allowed to remain on food. However, the only way to know for sure is to have the food tested, which does not occur today. So it’s really a guess as to how much is left behind and whether that amount of pesticides is “safe” or not. The EPA also states that in certain cases, such as economic loss to farmers, unauthorized pesticides (those known to be unsafe) are knowingly allowed to be used.

Making Better Meat Choices

Thankfully, in most supermarkets today you can find meat labeled as hormone free, antibiotic free and pesticide free, and that’s what I buy. (This does not alleviate all the problems associated with today’s farming practices, but it’s a step in the right direction.)

Because the food supply of the livestock is a big part of the problem, whenever possible, I look for grass-fed meat or chicken raised on something other than vegetarian feed. It can be hard to find, and it can be expensive, but I think it’s worth it. (While you can order grass fed meat online directly from the farms, if you look around, you can find grass-fed ground beef in some grocery stores too. If you are lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s near you, they sell grass fed ground beef for $5.99 a pound and it makes yummy pink-slime-free hamburgers and ground beef dishes). My kids also think it tastes much better; they can tell the difference!

Many people eat too much meat in one meal, so cutting back on portion size is another way to make eating meat more economical and healthy. Meat portions should never be larger than the palm of your hand. (Yes, that does mean those with bigger hands get a slight advantage!) But no one has a hand large enough to accommodate a 16 oz. porterhouse steak: a little meat protein goes a long way.

Another good food swap is to substitute bison for beef. Bison are fed grass instead of grain and are typically not given hormones, antibiotics or pesticides. Bison meat also has very little intramuscular fat, so it is low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol versus beef, pork or chicken. Venison is also a good choice.

Lastly, a comment on luncheon meats. In addition to the concerns already mentioned about hormones, pesticides and antibiotics in the meats, most packaged meats (bacon, salami, ham, pepperoni, hot dogs, etc.) contain nitrates as a preservative. Sodium nitrate is converted into nitrosamines, which are chemicals that can cause cancer.

While nitrosamines can cause virtually any kind of cancer, the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that people eating more processed meat were 50% more likely to develop lower colon cancer. Nitrosamines have also been linked to a 68% higher risk of pancreatic cancer, and increasing consumption of processed meats by 30 grams resulted in a 15% to 38% increase in risk for developing stomach cancer.

Consumption of nitrates has been shown to cause an increase in brain tumors in children and to result in DNA mutations. The food industry calls nitrates a color fixer, as they turn meats bright red and can make old, gray, unattractive meat look healthy and delicious.

But the good news is that most major grocery store chains have some nitrate-free meat in their organic sections and you can find them at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods as well. Again, they can cost a little more, but I’d rather see my meat as it really is and skip the cancer risk, especially for my kids, as their developing bodies can handle fewer toxins.

While these changes won’t fix the problems in our food supply, they will help you make healthier meat choices. Becoming an educated consumer and voting with your wallet is a step toward getting better meat options in our stores that are free of hormones, pesticides, antibiotics and nitrates.


To your wellness and health: your true wealth!



Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal at

Photo Source: Microsoft Clip Art

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